Fiction by Gina Goldblatt
Hyacinth’s father has conical ears. The ears keep growing as the man ages. His ears are small now. He is hoping his hearing improves as they inch towards the sky but there is a lot of doubt in the pink rimming his eyes. He smiles but Hya knows he’s stewing.
It’s a man thing. There are so many man things. Ball scratching, scab picking, fire starting, dignity demolishing: these are not the things she means. The man things she means have to do with the gut. The beer and the pepperoni in the gut. The gut over the pants with the beer and the pepperoni inside. The man behind the gut.
He is arched over, doubled in like a paper clip, his bones scratching at each other for advice. He is conical in form, his head the Christmas tree star, because Christmas has gotten less and less appealing over the years. Pleading with his belly to please get out of the way of seeing his feet, this man has become a rusting machine. Inside of his gut is no longer beer, no longer pepperoni, but words. All like a magnetic game. Words floating in a stew of acid, unrecognizable from being worked on for years.
This man has a family. He has a daughter, Hya, and the eldest, a son. He has a job. He has a motorcycle and one friend. He yells at his family. He yells at his job. He can’t ride his motorcycle because his gut is too big. His friend’s gut is bigger. He is always talking about leaving soon for the afterwards that everyone has ideas about, his gut eating his will to stay in the shit-caked world he knows.
Hya hears the neighbor child in the apartment next door; asks her mother where her teacher is going off to. “Is he passing away?” the child offers. No, he’s just not coming back, says her mom. This unknown fear makes the child burst out crying at bedtime.
Children don’t understand the unknown, but they know enough to cry. Hya tells me. And she tells me the story about her neighbor’s child sobbing through the thin walls of her apartment. The perfect sense of the child’s fear.
The unknown is a gnawing gut full of words we can’t recognize because we are afraid to use them: love. sorry. sad. A somewhere-place in which these words jumble, pump through our veins and linger in our fingertips that are tapping the desk, our swollen extremities. These words are gluttons for room. Make bubbles around themselves, jar against each other like angry bumper cars in an unlit amusement park, ravaged by teenagers after hours. Hya’s dad is the wide end of a cone getting pulled towards an inevitable center in which he knows he will never fit.
Gina is a fiction writer with a poetic bent, living in Oakland,CA but still calling herself a New Yorker. She hosts a monthly feminist reading series called "From All Points but the Center" at E.M. Wolfman's General Store in Downtown Oakland and recently opened Liminal: A Feminist Writing Space, also in Oakland. She has three cats named Little, Cali, and Carl, does Aerial Silks in place of regular exercise and has a chapbook entitled "All Small Carcasses" coming out from The Gorilla Press in February. You can read more of her work and about her writing at GinaGoldblatt.com.